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Free Elections, Epilogue

Part I: Free Elections
reported from Las Vegas, Nevada’s Joan Walsh this morning.

But United Farmworkers’ Union co-founder Dolores Huerta went further, accusing the Culinary Workers Union of intimidating Clinton supporters and keeping them away from the caucuses. Union leaders are telling Clinton backers if they don’t vote for Obama, “they won’t get transportation, they will be fired,” Huerta said. She also argued that Clinton has a “cultural, political and social relationship with the Latino community, which Senator Obama does not have.” Latinos call Clinton “Hilaria,” Huerta said, adding derisively that they call Sen. Obama “Como se llama?”
(as in “What’s his name?”) …

… .. Pro-Clinton blogger Taylor Marsh picked up the tale, relying on Marie Angers’ account. But so far, Antuna has been silent since talking to the Sun. Reached by telephone Friday afternoon, at first she didn’t want to talk. “I’m just afraid to say anything,” she said. But then the CWU shop steward of 24 years agreed to tell her story.

As Walsh states in her piece, Atuna has been silent since originally talking to the Sun. Angers, whose name I have not used until this post, would not even allow me to use her name in the audio interview (the story I broke before anyone). As I said in this post taking on the Sun’s piece, this is about free elections and having the right to vote for whomever you want. Attacks on me through the cowardice of questions doesn’t make efforts at election manipulation any less real. As I’ve said before, Angers would not give me Atuna’s name either. Walsh’s piece gives you an idea why.

So who’s the hack now?, asks DailyKos diarist debcoop. I urge you to read the comments. They’re very telling and say something about Obama’s supporters, who don’t want the truth as much as they want to vilify anything having to do with Hillary Clinton, including twisting the truth about her, and if they can defame me in the process all the better.

Back to Joan Walsh:

“All I want to do is tell you how it went. The whole week [union reps] were coming to the cafeteria, trying to sign up voters, some independents, some Republicans, trying to get them to endorse Obama. I would try to eat, and it was ‘Obama, Obama, Obama.’ I’d say, ‘Leave me alone, I’m an independent, I don’t know who I want.’ But then I really wanted to go to the caucuses, I was confused about who I want to vote for and I wanted to experience it all myself. And they were making it sound like I had to register as a Democrat to caucus.

“So I finally said, ‘Can I please have a paper to change my party?’ I sat down and started filling out the paperwork, and the woman said, ‘Sweetie, you’re gonna support Obama, right?’ I said, ‘No, I’m undecided,’ and she said, ‘Well, you can’t go if you’re not supporting Obama.’ And she took the papers from my hands. It was so embarrassing, everyone had their eyes on me.

When the Sun’s Mishak called Antuna, she says, “I didn’t know it was going to happen like that, he kept asking me, what do you mean this, what do you mean that? He twisted my words.” Asked if she said it was just a “miscommunication,” she insisted, “I didn’t say anything like that.”

Matt DeFalco says at Paris, the union is only helping Obama supporters register to vote and get time off work. He says he distributed Clinton leaflets in the Paris cafeteria after the Antuna incident “and people were like, ‘are you seriously passing those out here right now?’ People are being intimidated into voting for Obama.” But Mishak says he’s investigated every voter intimidation claim “the Clinton campaign has been pushing” and that nothing, except perhaps Antuna’s, deserves the term “intimidation.” He adds: “It’s surprising to me that people would be surprised a union would be saying to its members, ‘You have to endorse our candidate. We need to win.’” … ..

What “the Clinton campaign has been pushing.” Pushing?

It’s called reporting what happened, without inserting yourself into the story because of some bias you may have against Clinton, or for Obama. We wouldn’t have known about the fliers, “You Can Be A Democrat for A Day,” being released in northern Nevada by an Obama precinct captain if someone hadn’t reported it to the Clinton campaign. The same goes for the story of what happened to Atuna.

The fact remains that the interview I got was unvarnished and not coerced. After speaking with Angers in a pre-interview, she called me back to tell her story, without any interruption, coaxing or badgering from me.

The Sun’s reaction speaks for itself. They’re not surprised that a union would be telling its members for whom to vote. That says it all.

UPDATE II (1.20.08): Matt Stoller also weighs in that the Culinary union was indeed pressuring their members in “Gerald McEntee, Voter Suppression, Nevada Caucuses”:

Anyway, I don’t buy the claims of the Obama campaign that there was voter suppression going on, and I do think that the Culinary workers were pressuring their members to vote for Obama. Unfortunately for them, AFSCME just flat out beat them at their own game.

UPDATE: Bill Clinton weighs in.

This post has been updated.

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